The Marine Institute, Galway recently hosted the second general assembly of the European Union funded Jerico-NEXT research Project, where over 70 leading European marine scientists met to discuss the importance of open access to ocean observatory systems, providing the delivery of timely, continuous high quality data and information products related to marine environment in European coastal seas.
Welcoming visitors from all over Europe Mick Gillooly, Director of ocean science and information services said, "the recent advancement in ocean observatory technology has opened up opportunities for us to learn about the complexity of the coastal ocean systems. This has been extremely important in realising that our countries face similar environmental challenges and are reliant upon the best available science and knowledge informing decisions affecting our ocean."
The coastal area in particular is the most productive and dynamic environment of the world ocean with significant resources and services. To understand the ocean environment we also have to understand the interconnection between physics, biogeochemistry and biology. "Such an integration of ideas requires a range of marine science specialists, as well as experts in technology and ICT working together to build new technological developments allowing for continuous monitoring of a larger set of key oceanic parameters," explained Paul Gaughan, Marine Institute.
Jerico-NEXT aims to build on the innovative ongoing cooperation in coastal observatories in Europe by implementing the coastal part of a European Ocean Observing System and other European Marine Research Infrastructure initiatives. This is essential in providing marine data and services to the research community and society. "Having been involved in the Jerico Research Infrastructure since its inception in 2011, we are pleased that this project has allowed for building on initiatives in providing free and open access to marine data and services to the research community and society," Mr Gillooly further said.
"The Marine Institute has a longstanding commitment to the collection, processing and analysis of high quality coastal marine observations. In Ireland we are utilising the SmartBay Coastal observatory located 5km off Spiddal in Galway Bay, as a key component in this trans-European collaboration effort. From this we are able to deliver high quality information about sea conditions, Subsea video and audio data in real-time to scientists around Europe to access and analyse," explained Mr Gaughan.
The SmartBay Observatory Test Site is also used by European Marine Technology developers to trial new sensors and equipment to improve their capability in understanding complex ocean processes.
The data may be viewed at http://smartbay.marine.ie